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Water Related Projects


 Study on Minimum Environmental Flow for Hydropower Projects in Bhutan – Phase II

A.        Introduction

The NECS is mandated to safeguard the negative environmental impact from all the developmental activities. As per the National Environment Protection Act (NEPA) 2007, the Water Act (WA) 2011 and its Regulation 2014, it is mandatory to maintain a minimum E-Flow for any diversion of natural water flow to maintain healthy ecosystems. Building on the outcomes of Phase-I, the Phase-II project is aimed to further institutionalise the E-Flow utility beyond run of the river hydropower plant development –hydropower peaking, abstraction and diversion of natural watercourses such as for drinking and irrigation– as well as building and integrating the study and analysis of E-Flows into the curriculum of educational institutes and establish robust institutional capacities.


The National Environment Commission Secretariat (NECS) is coordinating and managing the project “Study on Minimum Environmental Flow for Hydropower Projects in Bhutan – Phase II”, funded by the Austrian Development Agency.


B.        Objective

To minimise or avoid negative impact on the environment from the developmental activities and carrying forward the achievements made in the Phase-I of the E-Flow project, thus strengthening water security and enhancing management as reflected in the 12th FYP and contributing to the NKRA 5, 6 and 17.


C.        Outputs


Output 1: Develop an appropriate module on assessment and monitoring of minimum E-Flow, which will be integrated into existing curricula of CNR, CST and UWICER.

Modules on assessment, determination and monitoring of minimum E-Flow will be developed. Prior to the module development, a needs assessment of institutions in terms of their capacity to determine E-Flow will be conducted.  A framework for the module will be developed followed by comprehensible modules and an action plan for rolling out of the modules. Institutional linkages and partnerships will also be established both internally and externally in order to develop in-house capacity. This output will enable institutionalization of the capacity to assess, determine and monitor E-Flow.

Output 2: Integrate the E-Flow guideline into the detailed project report preparation and hydropower guidelines.

The E-Flow guideline will be mainstreamed into the detailed project report and hydropower guidelines through the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Terms of Reference. This output will enable the incorporation of environmental and social safeguards for hydropower projects at the planning level.

Output 3: Develop and integrate E-Flow guideline for beyond run-of-the-river hydropower schemes.

Guideline for beyond run of the river hydropower schemes including reservoir based hydropower schemes and large-scale abstractions for drinking and irrigation water will be developed. This output will enable for development of a guideline with universal application to all types of water abstraction and diversion activities.

D.        Outcome

Institutionalisation of capacity and knowledge on minimum E-Flow through the development of an appropriate E-Flow module for technical institutes and regularisation of E-Flow in both run of the river and beyond run of the river hydropower schemes.


E.         Project duration: November 2019 – April 2022.


F.         Stakeholders

Gross National Happiness Commission Secretariat, Bhutan Electricity Authority, Department of Hydropower and Power Systems, Department of Engineering Services, Department of Agriculture, National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology, Forest Resources Management Division, National Research Center for Riverine Lake and Fisheries, Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research, College of Science and Technology, College of Natural Resources, Sherubtse College, and Druk Green Power Corporation Limited,



Advisory Services and Analytics (ASA) project for the Bhutan Water Sector

A.    Introduction

project is aimed at management and enhancing the water sector in the country
through assessment of the key institutional set up, services and providing
support to the implementation of the National Integrated Water Resources
Management Plan (NIWRMP) 2016 and development of a Water Atlas.
The National Environment Commission
Secretariat (NECS) is coordinating and managing the ASA project with the World
Bank (WB). The ASA project is grouped under three components.

B.    Impact

The ASA will assist the government to implement
some of the water sector support, in line with the Water Act of Bhutan 2011 and
its Regulation, NIWRMP 2016 and 12th FYP, particularly in four key
areas: i) exploring options to strengthen the existing institutional framework
for the sector; ii) designing and developing information system for water
resource inventory for nation’s ground and surface water along with framework
and methodology,
and training and capacity development at the national level (i.e.,
a Water Atlas); iii) strengthening the implementation of NIWRMP; and iv)
opportunities to enhance water service delivery through reducing NRW and
improving efficiency, perhaps through
Public Private
Partnership (

 Based on the findings and recommendations of these four

activities, the ASA will identify and seek agreement on aspects requiring
additional in-depth support and next steps that would be taken, consistent with
the Bank’s comparative advantage.

 C.    Components

Component 1: Support to Strengthen the Institutional

This activity includes a
sector-wide rapid assessment of institutional, financial, and policy dimensions
to identify key issues and capacity gaps. It also includes specific requests
identified, namely a feasibility study and developing a comprehensive water
resource inventory (Water Atlas) along with framework and methodology for the
nation’s ground and surface water,
training and capacity development, and support for the
implementation of NIWRM
P, 2016. It is divided into three sub-components.

·  Review and Explore
Options to Strengthen the Existing Institutional Framework,

·  Designing the Water
Atlas, and

·  Strengthening the
implementation of IWRM.

Component 2. Support to Strengthen Water Supply and
Sanitation Service Delivery

This activity includes assessment of the
current situations of
Non-Revenue Water
and other challenges in service
provision forming a basis to explore feasibility of different
PPP arrangements. The first
task is the assessment of the current situations of NRW, which includes
physical and commercial losses. The second task is a review of water service
operation in individual city or district. 
This includes financial, institutional and technical assessments to
understand how the water services are delivered. All this will form a basis to
explore feasibility of different PPP arrangement.

Component 3: Discussion on the next steps

Based on the findings and
recommendations from the project activities, future engagement of the WB with the
oyal Government of Bhutan will be explored.

D.    Project duration: March 2020 to March 2021

E.         Stakeholders

Gross National
Happiness Commission Secretariat, Ministry of Works & Human Settlement,
Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture &
Forests, Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, National Centre for Hydrology
and Meteorology, Thimphu Thromde, Gelephu Thromde, Phuntsholing Thromde,
Samdrup Jongkhar Thromde, and Thimphu Dzongkhag.